Emma Wilson. Wish Her Well

Hailing from Teesside, Emma Wilson has been making a name for herself in the UK blues scene over the past few years with reviewers and fans falling over themselves to praise her powerful and emotive voice. With more in common with classic southern R’n’B and soul singers than the likes of Janis Joplin or Maggie Bell, Wilson’s voice is warm and deep and perfectly suited to this collection of songs which stay well away from simple 12 bar blues workouts. Instead, Wilson, backed by an impressive band composed of well seasoned musicians (including bassist Mark Neary who co-wrote most of the songs here with Wilson) inhabits the sly funk of Memphis, the rhythms of New Orleans and smoky jazz tinged torch songs with the band playing for much of the time in a manner which recalls the best of early seventies jazz/blues/rock crossovers. At their best, as on the taut yet slippery Nuthin I Won’t Do, they recall the master rhythm grooves of The Meters.

The title song opens the album, an enticing vamp with oodles of juicy guitar that finds Wilson saluting her ex’s new girlfriend in a somewhat barbed manner. Mary Lou then dips into that Muscle Shoals/Meters clipped funk groove which is revisited, albeit in a more louché and looser manner, on Rack ‘Em Up which recalls the days when UK singers were able to call on the likes of Allen Toussaint or Lowell George to add some southern swampiness to their impassioned vocals. She Isn’t You and Then I’m Gone meanwhile allow Wilson to indulge in the sultry charms of singers such as Koko Taylor and Irma Thomas.

Elsewhere, Wilson and the band loosen up somewhat, rendering  Blossom Like Snow and Back On The Road with a live in the studio sound, the latter sounding not a million miles away from Christine Perfect with the original Fleetwood Mac. The one misstep on the album is the turbo charged Not Paying which has a cool Duane Eddy like guitar riff almost buried underneath the frantic delivery. It’s out of step with the rest of the album although it does sound like it might be quite awesome in a live setting.

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